Big Fish (USA; 110 min.)

directed by: Tim Burton
starring: Ewan McGregor; Albert Finney; Billy Crudup
Big Fish
Bruce says: "BIG FISH had a big budget and, one could surmise from the media blitz that started well in advance of its release, a huge advertising campaign chest as well. The all-star cast and top-notch director add to the allure.

"Ed Bloom (Albert Finney) is a dying man. A boring buffoon, he has spent an entire life telling the same tall tales at scout camps, dinner parties and any other occasion where he can capture a group’s attention. His favorite tale is that of the big fish which can never be caught. He is also fond of the story of the old witch: anyone who looks in her right eye can see how they are going to die.

"His son (Billy Crudup) returns to Alabama from Paris to be by his father’s bedside as he lay dying although he doesn’t really like his father or his father’s famous yarns. With him is his French wife Josephine (Marion Cotillard) who better understands her father-in-law’s fantasy life. She actually prods him to trigger more stories. For example, she questions how he met his wife (Jessica Lange) which triggers many flashbacks which retell the life of Ed Bloom. In the flashbacks, Ewan McGregor serves as the young Ed Bloom, a wholesome, winsome lad who is a far cry from the man who lies dying. Young Ed has greater adventures than Dorothy, E. T., and Harry Potter put together judging by the immense attitude that accompanies every scene. These big adventures allow the rest of the cast to ham it up as they play out one stereotype after another.

"All this is charming and chock full of special effects to enhance the fantasies. It is well-meaning, too, for there is a moral dealing with love and forgiveness. It is also very southern, set in the South were outrage is pedestrian. For me, little of the charm works its magic as intended. The set design and art direction seem hackneyed and derivative. Each and every one of the gifted and accomplished actors is performing at a level far from their best.

"My views are not shared with the majority of the moviegoing public which has seen BIG FISH. I wonder how many of them have seen John Sayles’ THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH. Not many, I’d bet. 2.5 cats"

Chris says: "Anyone calling this Tim Burton’s masterpiece obviously hasn't seen the vastly superior ED WOOD. It’s a relief after the boring SLEEPY HOLLOW and the atrocious PLANET OF THE APES remake, and it features a solid turn from Ewan McGregor in his best role since MOULIN ROUGE! Not at all as corny or brainless as Forrest Gump, I found it really affecting at the end, and I marveled at Burton’s phantasmagoric delight in all of the flashback sequences. The present day scenes with Billy Crudup and Albert Finney are a little heavy-handed and joyless by comparison."